While revisiting old comics, I dived back into some of DC’s mid-90s Zero Hour event. This was an important event for me as a comics fan, as it allowed me an easy entry point into new and existing titles.
Up until Zero Hour I’d really only ever read Batman and some related titles (usually whenever there was an important crossover). Prior to that I read some X-Men and Fantastic Four, but being a young teen with not much cash I could only commit to buying so many comics each month. Considering there were four main Batman titles to keep up with, I couldn’t afford to follow many other comics. I certainly didn’t have money to waste trying out new stuff only to find that I had to get hold of tons of back issues and read other titles just to know what the hell was going on.
Zero Hour provided me with an opportunity to discover new things. For those that don’t know this event, Zero Hour was an event that handled alternate realities off the back of milestone stories such as Death of Superman and Crisis on Infinite Earths (find out more at DC Fandom). The actual issue mini-series that led the whole event was a bit anti-climactic in my opinion (basically Hal Jordan losing his shit again), but the ripple across all titles was to give them a simultaneous issue 0.
These issues were stand-alone stories showing the affect effects of Zero Hour on each character. They shone a light on the character, delving into their origins before propelling them in their next significant story arc which was, of course, affected by the fallout of Zero Hour. Additionally, a number of new titles were piloted through Zero Hour. Some were brand new pitches that emerged from the event and others were re-imaginings of existing characters (my favourite oddity with was Dr Fate reborn as Fate, a sword wielding muscle-bound warlock).
All of these issues were a gift to me – finally here was a chance to grab as many new DC titles as I wanted, get a taste of the characters without the need to understand decades of context, and chose new comics to follow. And all of this could be done with a single issue!
One of my biggest gripes about mainstream comics (and the reason I eventually stopped reading for many years) is the constant overlapping into different titles. With Batman, it was hard enough to follow just Bruce’s stories across four main titles, periodic one-shots, regular crossovers with other titles and the need to have half an eye on Justice League in case anything important happened to him there. I was reluctant to get into new things because I knew I couldn’t afford to sustain being a reader of anything else if it started to deviate from a single main title.
The Zero Hour issue 0’s aren’t all masterpieces. I found some of the new titles to be pretty awful, if I’m being honest. But I still have stacks of them because they mean a lot to me in respect of the window they opened into new territory. Recently, I’ve really enjoyed picking them back up, particularly the issues for Lobo, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Superman: Man of Steel. You can find various 0’s on eBay for pretty cheap, so if you missed out on this at the time why not take a look for some characters you always wanted to read and try them out.